How to Care for Hornwort in Aquariums and Ponds
Hornwort is a popular aquatic plant for both fish tanks and outdoor ponds because of its fluffy-looking stems, extremely fast growth, and ability to consume excess nutrients from the water. Learn about the care requirements for hornwort and whether or not it’s the right plant for you.
What is Hornwort?
Ceratophyllum dmersum can be called many things, including rigid hornwort, coontail, and hornwart. It grows very tall in the wild and will easily reach all the way to the top of your aquarium or pond. Hornwort is normally found floating on the surface of the water, but it can be planted in the substrate to look like an underwater bush with many branches or side stems. The bright green leaves are thin and rigid, similar to pine needles. Hornwort is similar to water-sprite, javamoss, and has dense foliage which provides excellent protection for shrimp and baby fish.
Where can hornwort be found? Hornwort is adaptable to all climates. It is found on all continents except Antarctica. It prefers to grow in bodies of still or slow-moving fresh water with lots of organic nutrients in it.
Can hornwort clean water. Hornwort is a fast-growing plant that uses waste compounds (e.g. ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphates) to grow new leaves. With enough light and nutrients, hornwort can easily grow 1-4 inches (3-10 cm) per week.
Does hornwort get eaten by snails? Aquariums snails are called detritivores. They don’t eat living plants but only decaying leaves or other organic material. A pest snail may be eating plants. This is usually a sign that the snail has removed some of the unhealthy leaves.
Can goldfish eat Hornwort? Generally, plant-eating animals like turtles, koi and African cichlids don’t eat Hornwort. It could be because of its hard texture or slightly serrated leaves.
Hornwort leaves may not be perfectly smooth, but they have tiny bumps that give them a slightly spiky texture.
How to Care For Hornwort
This aquatic plant can live in a huge temperature range from around 50-85degF (10-30degF), so you can put it in tropical aquariums, cold water tanks with no heater, and outdoor ponds (where they can often survive the winter season depending on your climate). Hornwort is best grown as a floating plants, which have more access to light and carbon dioxide in the air. It can be planted in the substrate or attached to hardscape by some people. However, it does not grow roots and the attached end will rot away. If your hornwort starts to grow out of control, make sure you trim it back so it doesn’t block the sunlight or limit gas exchange at surface.
Hornwort prefers gentle flow so ensure that the needles are not accidentally sucked up by the filter intake. It can be grown under low to very high light, and it does not require any carbon dioxide (CO2) injection. It grows quickly so it is best to use it as background plants in larger tanks unless you have time to maintain it. Its rapid growth rate can quickly drain your aquarium’s nutrients. Therefore, you might need to periodically add Easy Green liquid fertilizer to the water column to ensure that other plants have enough food.
Why does my hornwort shed its leaves? Hornwort strays when it experiences a drastic change in water parameters. This is most likely to happen when the plant is new to your tank. Do not throw out the entire plant. Instead, wait for it to recover. It will soon begin to grow new shoots and leaves. Also, make sure to gravel vacuum the fallen leaves to prevent excess nutrients from building up in the aquarium.
Hornwort is easily propagated by trimming off a section and floating it in a new fish tank.
How to Propagate Hornwort
In nature, hornwort may form tiny buds that fall to the ground during cold seasons and then sprout when the temperature warms. A side shoot can be cut or the top of a tall stem can be propagated at home. A single hornwort segment will soon become a new plant, if it is allowed to float on the water surface or planted in the ground. It is possible to obtain hornwort by asking around and seeing if anyone has any extra trimmings. They are often more than willing to share. We do not sell Hornwort, as it isn’t able to survive shipping. However, we have many of our favourite beginner plants available for you to view.